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Parma schools to resume in-person instruction in November despite dozens of students, staff in quarantine

Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 19:32:09-04

PARMA, Ohio — The Parma City School District is planning ahead while mitigating current positive COVID-19 cases.

“If you really look at it, we’ve got about 9,300 students and about 1,600 staff members,” Superintendent Charles Smialek said. “So when you really look at our numbers of people in quarantine it’s a very low percentage, actually less than 1%.”

The district currently has 21 students and 10 staff members in quarantine while operating under a hybrid learning model in which students attend class face-to-face two days a week based alphabetically by last name.

In its most recent data, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health identified two students within the Parma City School District as positive for COVID-19.

District officials said the two students who are siblings were never tested for the virus, but were exposed to positive cases and were showing symptoms.

“We don’t want any student in quarantine. We don’t want any adult, obviously, to have the virus,” Smialek said. “But we also have to be cognizant of the fact that we’re doing everything we can to keep people safe.”

Melissa Wolfe’s sons are in kindergarten and sixth grade and attend class face-to-face on Thursdays and Fridays.

“As a parent of a small child I love the idea of two days a week with smaller group sizes,” Wolfe said.

Smialek said the district is optimistic students will return to campuses five days a week by mid-November and said individual districts should have the authority to make those decisions.

“We’re going to continue to look at our data. Cuyahoga County is a really large, sprawling populous,” Smialek said. “I’m not sure if there’s a party at John Carroll that triggers some type of outbreak on the East Side that we should have to close the Parma City Schools.”

Wolfe said she trusts the administration to make decisions regarding her children’s health.

“Mentally and socially they need to be in school but if it’s just not the right time, I trust that those that are in charge will decide when it is the right time,” Wolfe said.

Administrators added regardless of when the district returns to in-person instruction five days a week, parents who don’t feel comfortable sending their kids to school will still have access to the virtual option.